Set in the historic province of Bourbonnais, the Vichy Hippodrome is one of France’s finest and most prestigious horse racing tracks, located just over the Allier River in the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes in central France.
Vichy is primarily a summer course with as many as 40 meetings scheduled from May through September. The biggest week in its season is the La Grande Semaine de Galop which is a weeklong flat racing festival held in July. One of the highlights of the French summer, this seven-day meeting offers a thrilling mix of top class racing and socialising. Some of the other major events held at Vichy include June’s Le Grand Chelem de Vichy and the Grand Prix de Vichy-Auvergne which was first run in 1875. The racecourse attracts over 20,000 visitors every year
Vichy Race Course History
Located around 250 miles south of Paris by the Allier river, the spa resort of Vichy was created in the 19th century after the waters here were found to help cure stomach illnesses that France’s military colonials had picked up while away maintaining the nation’s empire in Africa and Asia. Over time, a resort grew up and so naturally visitors to Vichy wanted to enjoy a good time while in town so hotels and restaurants began to open up as well as leisure activities such as opera and sports.
Then, as now, one of those sports was horse racing which was a favorite pastime of locals and tourists alike and the first race took place in 1875. When World War II broke out in 1939, due to its stage of development – Vichy had more hotels than anywhere in France except Paris plus one of the best telephone and telegraph networks in the country – Vichy was chosen to govern southern France under instructions from the Nazis after locals submitted to occupation.
Today this is still considered to be shameful episode in the nation’s history and the people of the city, in an attempt to break from their historical association, promoted other positive ideas of Vichy, one of which was sport and with a track already in place, horse racing became what the city is now most famous for.
The Société de Sport de France ran the course from 1958 to 1995 after which the race course took charge under instruction from the two main administrative organisations, France Galop and Cheval Français. A new trotting track, inside the flat racing track, was built in 1965 and in 1998 the Grande Semaine du Galop meeting took place for the first time.
Vichy Race Course track configuration
53 hectare racecourse
The flat, 2,000-metre course is right-handed
Vichy race track best trainers
Vichy, with its lush green grass and abundance of trees, has always attracted top trainers and jockeys. In fact, numerous trainers from all over France are known to rent nearby stables over the summer to be near the racecourse and use the training facilities.
These trainers have had the most success in recent times:
- Davide Satalia
- Nicolas De Lageneste
- Mathieu Pitart
Vichy race track best Jockeys
Racing at Vichy means summer to the French and few evenings, or days, are better spent than watching pedigree horses run over the flat course, known to the French as Trot, or Jump course, referred to locally as Galop. As one of France’s foremost centers of horse racing, all the top jockeys look forward to racing at Vichy where some fare better than others.
Below you can see which jockeys have raked up more wins than their rivals recently:
- Maxime Guyon (106 wins)
- Pierre-Charles Boudot (102 wins)
- Christophe Soumillon (78 wins)
- Cristian Demuro (56 wins)
- Mickael Barzalona (46 wins)
Vichy racing season and Graded Stakes calendar
Vichy’s horse racing season runs between May and September and includes more than 40 trotting and flat racing meetings a year. The vast majority of these are run under PMU (France’s state betting system) conditions, and the biggest of which is the La Grande Semaine de Galop which is a weeklong flat racing festival held in July and one of the highlights of the French summer.
Such a festival brings together all of the best horses and jockeys in France as does the Grand Prix de Vichy-Auvergne. One of the most famous horse races in France, this is a Group 3 flat race open to thoroughbreds aged three years and up which was first run in 1875. Other main events include the Festival du Trot du Centre-Est and Le Grand Chelem de Vichy.
Vichy Race Course address and website
Vichy 11 Rue Alquie, 03200 Vichy, France